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June 14, 2019

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 14, 2019 By Andrew Silow-Carroll (JTA)--I'll admit it: At first I didn't think it was a big deal. Someone alerted me to a tweet from Politico touting their cover story about Bernie Sanders' wealth. "The Secret of Bernie's Millions" is illustrated by a montage of the Jewish senator, one of his homes--and a tree sprouting $100 bills. You know: Benjamins. The text of the original tweet touting the piece, since deleted, read "Bernie Sanders might still be cheap, but he's sure not poor." A Jew, banknotes, that word "cheap"--how is that not anti-Semitic? That's what critics wanted to know. At first I wouldn't take the bait. Frugality and attacking the rich is Bernie's brand. He's a Vermont socialist, for goodness sake. The premise of the article, like the illustration and tweet, is that "Sanders has become one of those rich people against whom he has so unrelentingly railed." I thought Politico's takedown was puer- ile-you don't have to take a vow of poverty to campaign against America's obscene wealth gap--but hardly anti-Semitic. But then I read a tweet that made me think twice: "Can @politico explain to ushow photo- shopping money trees next to the only Jewish candidate for president and talking about how 'cheap'" and rich he is *isn't* antisemitic? Or The battle for fair trade By Mel Pearlman more American exports, the president's only choice was to implement tariffs on Chinese The U.S. is in a worldwide battle for mak- goods and services, while continuing to press ing trade among the nations fairer and more the Chinese government at the negotiating balanced than it has been for several decades, table. This is a bipartisan issue and enjoys support This is not an ideological or political is- by members of Congress from both sides of sue. All Americans, including those who hate the congressional aisle, the president, have a stake in his success in The motivation for trying to bring our trade converting free trade with China and other imbalances down and ultimately to eliminate countries into fair trade. The president needs themaltogetherhasfarreachingconsequences to directly address the American people, not for the economic health of our nation, just his base via Twitter, but by nationally Prior administrations have recognized televised speeches from the oval office. He this problem and have diplomatically tried needs to explain the short-term sacrifices but failed to correct these trade imbalances, this trade war will require from the American International trade imbalances create lower people, and the long-term benefits that fairer U.S.taxrevenuesbecauseofreducedeconomic trade will bring. activity at home, particularly in manufactur- An added benefit might be the restoration ing, andthelossofhigherpayingjobsinmany of respect for the office he has denigrated; skilledsectorsoftheeconomywhichhavebeen and it might even win him a few more votes outsourcedto cheaperlabor markets overseas, down the road. In earlier years, providing foreign nations For the American people, a more balanced a trade advantage served the national and trade relationshipwithChinawillcreatemore security interests of the U.S. as the world was andhigherpayingjobs, reducewageinequality, recovering from the devastation of World War and increase revenue to fund our ignored needs II, new nations were emerging from colonial such as infrastructure improvements, climate rule in Asia and Africa, and a cold war was change concerns, energy transformation and raging between the Western democracies and education. The progressive Jewish community the communist world, needs to set aside its blanket opposition to During this time the U.S. was the pre- everything the president does and support eminent economic and military power in the president on this issue. the world. Free trade, meaning American TheU.S.nationalinterestandworldstability economic foreign aid and the elimination of requirecontinuedU.S.globalmilitarypresence tariffs for American imports, would create anddiplomaticandeconomicengagement.The viable and stable governments as a bulwark nations with whom we engage in trade should against communist expansion, and ultimately, recognize the sacrifices made by the American emerging markets for American goods and people in postponing our own domestic needs. services. An expansive and healthy American economy These trade policies worked only too well with sufficient revenue generation to fund with the emergence of China as an economic America's own needs, is not only in America's powerhouse as a result of the Nixon/Kissinger best interest, but is in the best interest of a opening to China in the 1970s and the collapse healthy world economy. of the Soviet Union a decade later. If you wish to comment or respond you For many years now China has enjoyed can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail. increasingly favorable trade imbalances com. Please do so in a rational thoughtful amounting to hundred of billions of dollars respectful and civil manner. annually to the detriment of the U.S. Other MelPearlmanholdsB.S. &M.S. degrees in nations to a lesser extent, including Canada physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially and Mexico have also enjoyed favorable trade cametoFloridain1966toworkontheGemini imbalances with the U.S. and Apollo space programs. He has practiced Unfortunately, yesterday's trade partners law in Central Florida since 1972. He has have now become today's trade competitors servedaspresidentoftheJewishFederationof and diplomatic trade negotiations have been GreaterOrlando;wasacharterboardmember, ineffective in correcting the problem, first Vice President and pro-bono legal coun- After China's reneging on agreed terms to sel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and modify their laws for patent and copyright Education Center of Central Florida, as well protection and reform of other economic and asholdingmanyothercommunityleadership cyber practices, and to open their markets to positions. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 46 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: news@ rland heritage'c m Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor News Editor Gene Stam Kim Fischer Christine DeSouza Society Editor Office Manager Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Kim Fischer Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Mel Pearlman David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Gil Dornbrosky Joyce Gore are they just letting this happen because he's a progressive politician they don't like?" That tweetwas from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, and it reminded me that what I think is or isn't anti-Semitic is less important than how others regard and weaponize anti-Semitism. AndAOC raises an important point aboutwhat we are willing to criticize and forgive when it comes to anti-Semitism. Her tweet invokes accusations of anti- Semitism that have dogged one of her House freshman colleagues, Ilhan Omar of Minne- sota, whose own tweet about Jewish wealth was widely condemned for--I'm being charitable here--" invoking anti-Semitic tropes." Omar's ill-conceived comments about Israel support- ers led to a House resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hate speech. (Omar apologized for saying that AIPAC buys politicians' support of Israel.) "Notice the people willing to explain this away," Ocasio-Cortez continues, referencing the Politico tweet. "[Y]et when Ilhan's words are taken out of context, they are the 1st to jump on her. Look at how these accusations are selectively enforced on the left, esp when it's the *alt-right* actually committing anti- semitic violence in the US." There is a lot to unpack there, but AOC is basically alleging that anti-Semitism is, like climate change, a problem that many people are unable to separate from their political biases. She's right: Alot of people who are outraged By Ben Cohen (JNS)--In a puff piece on Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, published on the occasion of his 80th birthday last year, the broadcaster France 24 headlined its profile, "The Great Survivor of Lebanese Politics." This wording suggested that Berri is a successful politician in the sense that this image is understood in the Western democ- racies; someone who negotiates, navigates, cajoles and compromises his way through his country's legislature and invariably comes out on top. But if Berri has been the "great survivor," this is due to far more than his acknowledged political skills. Berri has also been awarlord-- specifically one of the founders of (and still the head of) the Lebanese Shi'a Amal militia. While at the helm of a paramilitary whose English name translates as "The Movement of the Disinherited," Berri amassed a fortune of $78 million--not as much as some other Lebanese politicians, but enough to place him in a "top 10" list. Many of the more gruesome episodes of his career have longbeen forgotten; for example, Berri's mid-1980s alliance with Syrian dictator Hafez Assad (the late father of current dictator Bashar Assad) against Yasser Arafat's PLO. For three years, Areal militiamen imposed a punishing siege upon three of the main Palestinian refugee camps, duringwhich thousands of Palestinian civilians were killed, wounded, starved, arrested and tortured in the ultimately successful bid to drive Yasser Arafat out of Lebanon. Lebanon's sectarian politics have served Berri well: He has never been held accountable for his war crimes (and probably never will be), and he has served uninterrupted as the speaker of the country's parliament, a position reserved for a Shi'a Muslim, since 1992. Once an enemy of Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, Berri is now the terror group's political guardian, stating only last year that Hezbollah's "resis- tance" was one of the three pillars, along with the "people" and the Lebanese regular army, of Lebanon's national security. That status merely enhances his reputation with foreign leaders, who use Berri, according to France 24, as a conduit for messages to Hezbollah, a proscribed terrorist organization in several countries As the man with the most institutionalized power in Lebanon alongside the president and the prime minister, Berri is seen as avital port of call forvisiting U.S. politi- cians and diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with him in Beirut two months ago. Another U.S. politician who met with Berri more recently was Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), a leading congressional ally of Israel. Among the subjects they reportedly discussed was the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel over Omar are eager to downplay anti-Semi- tism on the right. These people are known as conservatives. Similarly, a lot of people on the left, including AOC, are unwilling to acknowl- edge how anti-Israel rhetoric often mirrors classic anti-Semitism, context be damned. The reaction to the Politico tweet may not be the best example of this hypocrisy. I suspect that it didn't get the same attention as Omar's notorious "It's all about the Benjamins, baby" tweet because Politico is a news site, not a high-profile politician. And unlike Breitbart or The Daily Caller, Politico isn't associated with the right, as far as I can tell. Plus, Politico deleted and apologized for the tweet, although not the illustration. "For the record: This replaces a deleted tweet that needed more context. Our apologies," read an updated tweet. A better example of this eye-of-the-beholder view of anti-Semitism was a tweet from Oc- tober, when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote that "we cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA." That big resistance funders George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg are Jewish or have Jewish roots led a lot of people to ac- cuse McCarthy ofdogwhistling. Jewish control of the anti-MAGA agenda is a staple of white Politico on page 15A as it relates to the vast natural-gas deposits in that part of the Mediterranean Sea On May 29, Berri gave the Lebanese news- paper A1-Joumhouriya, in which he mentioned his talk with Engel, and then reflected that Israel's apparent unease with the present status of the maritime border was rooted in that age-old Jewish characteristic: greed. For those who missed it the first time around, this is how he expressed himself. "Someone was once asked, 'How can you recognize a Jew?' "posed Berri. "The answer was: 'It's simple. If you see a pregnant woman, get close to her and toss a piece of gold next to her, or at her feet. If the fetus jumps out of his mother's womb and grabs the gold, you know that he is a Jew.'" This grotesquely anti-Semitic gag--pep- pered with a bit of misogyny for good mea- sure-doubtless went down a storm with those who were in the room. But in the 24 hours that followed the publication of Al-Joumhouriya's interview with Berri, only Jewish news out- lets and the MEMRI think-tank reported on his comments. No politician of note stepped forward to condemn him. Make no mistake: This sort of anti-Jewish barb belongs naturally to the pages of Der StOrmer, the Nazi propaganda sheet that exhib- ited a similarly pornographic anti-Semitism. It makes the other anti-Semitic canards ut- tered over the years by other Muslim leaders, like the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, seem almost mild by comparison. And yet it was met with silence. Part of the explanation why lies in the bigotry of low expectations. For all the trans- formations of our culture's sensitivity to race and gender in the last 50 years, we still don't bat an eyelid when Arab or Muslim leaders come out with same anti-Semitic garbage that has dominated casual discourse about Israel and Jews in the that region for at least a century. As Robert Wistrich, the scholar of anti-Semitism, described it, this has involved a fusion of "traditional Islamic anti-Judaism with Western conspiracy myths, Third World- ist anti-Zionism, and Iranian Shi'ite contempt for Jews as 'ritually impure' and corrupt individuals." All those strands were represented in Nabih Berri's anti-Semitic joke. Intelling it, Berri sent a message to the next generation of Lebanese politicians that anti-Semitism is a legitimate instrument of politics, and that violently mock- ing Jews is a normal component of rhetoric. Meanwhile, the silence of the outsideworld tells them that because of Lebanon's conflict with Israel, attacks on Jews, even vilely medieval ones, will pass without comment or censure. After all, this is how it's always been. Ben Cohen is a New York City-based jour- nalist and author who writes a weekly column on Jewish and international affairs for JNS.